Wednesday, June 04, 2008

BLOGGER INTERVIEW! :: The Spangly Princess

Italian football. Roman politics. World War I. Shopping. Behold the unique cocktail shaken by Vanda Wilcox, a.k.a. Spangly Princess. In the course of her ever-deepening fixation with AS Roma, the daily oddity of life in Italy and her career as an actual-factual history scholar, Vanda has created a blog like no other. Let's learn a bit more, shall we?

Q: How and why did you start Spangly Princess, and how has it evolved?

I started my blog back in 2005 when I was still a doctoral student and living in the UK. It started off pretty randomly as something to occupy my mind during my part-time job which involved long late-night shifts in a university library, and I was trying to avoid studying... you know how it goes. I didn't even really choose a name, I just stuck with what I'd been using online since about 2000 on various message boards. I think this might be kind of offputting to people, especially now that I mostly blog about football, but it's too late to change it now.

Q: I have not done a comprehensive study, so I can't say for certain, but I would wager that Spangly Princess is the only football-ish blog that also contains long posts about World War I battles, philosophy and retail obsessions. How would you define the thing? What makes you think, Aha! I should write about this on SP?

Is this a polite way of saying, why is your site so random? In general I try not to define it too much, because I don't really know how. I write about what's on my mind, which sounds terrifically banal, but basically if there's something which has got me excited, confused, depressed, infuriated, giggling or thoughtful, then it means I'll enjoy writing about it. And hopefully if I enjoy writing it, someone will enjoy reading it. Since I built up a readership – or rather, since a couple of people beyond my own family and friends started dropping by – I have developed a fairly good idea of what people would like to see on my site. That means that when there's any major news in Italian football, and especially in the world of fandom and the ultras, people (well, a few of them) expect me to have a comment on the situation. The same applies to the general trends in Italian politics, and especially Roman politics. And sometimes I buy a great new pair of shoes, and I just have to share. In the past I have more than once considered separating off the football stuff from the other bits, but people always tell me not to.

Q: When did you move to Rome? Can you tell us a little about how your love for AS Roma developed?

My family is part Italian and I grew up coming here every summer for a month or two, and speaking Italian at home part of the time. But I never made it to Rome specifically until 2002 when I came over here for a research trip. By profession I'm an historian and my main interest is Italian military history (y'all can insert as many jokes as you like right here) and specifically World War I. So I came to Rome to use the army archives here. I'm all alone in the city, not knowing anyone, and there's only so many hours in a day you can sit turning through dusty lists of military orders and piles of old newspaper. So I bought myself a ticket to go and see AS Roma. I've loved football since I was about 16, and my English side are Arsenal. Roma was meant to be a fling, a holiday romance, a bit on the side that my red-and-white boyfriend back home was never going to hear about. What goes on on holiday stays on holiday, right? Only, it didn't work that way. I fell in love, and badly. Don't ask me why, the heart has its own reasons. And I'd be lying if I said that the team weren't a factor in wanting to live here. I started coming over for months at a time (always during the football season, natch) and when I finished my doctorate, I got myself a research fellowship and moved straight over. That was February 2006; I can't see myself heading back to the UK any time soon.

Q: So, at the risk of inviting a book-length answer, just what IS it about Italian football? Why is it so...uh, weird?

Ah yes, this I can do. The answer is very simple, which is to say profoundly complicated. The answer is: Italy. Italian politics, society, culture and daily life are all that bit more…. weird than France, Germany, England, Scotland, Spain. Passion, chaos, cynicism, love, despair, corruption, gambling, beauty, sophistication, violence, avarice, power, elegance, cruelty, delight. Just, y'know, everyday run of the mill things.

Q: How has the football blogosphere affected your life as a football fan? I mean to say, has the fact that there are now innumerable people writing about football from innumerable perspectives changed the way you look at the game?

Yes, for sure. Good writing should challenge and inform as well as entertain, and I have both learned a lot and been challenged in my assumptions by many good football blogs. I write for Pitch Invasion [] which has an excellent selection of writing from around the world, including material from writers in Poland, Argentina, India and Egypt: this is amazing and something that was never possible before blogging. Then to name two very different but excellent blogs off the top of my head, sites like 200 Percent or The Run of Play offer inspiration and insight into whole new realms of fandom, and new ways of thinking about the game.

Q: Let's say there is no Internet. Would you be writing about football anyway?

Tricky. I guess not in any regular and systematic fashion, I'd be writing a it at home for my own purposes, because I love writing, but that's all. In the last year, at the insistence of my boyfriend who's a journalist, I have actually submitted some pieces for publication in real life actual solid paper magazines! Which I would never have dreamt of doing myself, and which was only possible thanks to the Internet. Weird, huh. I still find it pretty mental that someone on the far side of the globe might actually be interested in what I have to say about anything, never mind regularly want to read me drivelling on about Francesco Totti and the boys.


[For a slightly expanded version of this interview, see Eleven Devils.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

avarice - not a word you see in duNord, often!

2:54 PM  

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